Orphan fate: 20 films about children without parents

When you are just starting out in this world, family support determines the future in many ways. What about those who don’t have parents? Dramatic stories that tell about the life of a child who has ended up in a boarding school or wandering the streets always touch to the core. Here we have collected films about orphans – children by chance or because of the refusal of relatives who have become “no man’s”. In the selection you will find tragic and life-affirming stories about a unique chance for a happy fate.

Miracle in the Ocean (2021)

The novelty of the movie takes the viewer to the south of California, where the orphanage for Mexican boys is located. Officials do not care about the unprofitable institution, so the staff and the kids have to survive on their own. Funds are barely enough for food and the minimum set of necessary things, not to mention the repair of the premises. And when a hurricane hits the coast , the boarding school is in distress. What to do? The trustee, together with the pupils, decide to participate in international fishing competitions , the prize fund of which is a large amount.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Blue Miracle

Genre:
Drama, biography, family

Actors:
Jimmy Gonzalez, Dennis Quaid, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.7

Age restrictions:
12+


12 Mighty Orphans (2021)

An American film about children with a difficult fate is an inspiring story of orphans based on real events. During the Great Depression, war veteran Rusty Russell, himself a former orphan, decides to come to his home and organize a football team . And for many, this team of obscure little boys who survived life’s difficulties has become a hope for a brighter future.

Original title:
12 Mighty Orphans

Genre:
History, sports

Actors:
Luke Wilson, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Secret Garden (2020)

A film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Frances Hodgeon Burnett about Orphan Mary. The girl lost her parents and moved to her uncle in England. A rich aristocrat lives in a huge old mansion, where our heroine lives. The rules of life in the mysterious castle are very strict – you cannot leave the room on your own and walk around the house. But how can restrictions keep a 10-year-old child? Mary goes to investigate the building and stumbles upon a door that opens the entrance to a magical garden.

Original title:
The Secret Garden

Genre:
Fantasy, adventure, family

Actors:
Dixie Egerix, Colin Firth, Julie Walters …

Country:
UK, France, USA, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 5.6

Age restrictions:
6+


Shelter (2019)

This film about orphans in orphanages is a drama filmed by the only female director from Afghanistan. Homeless Kudratulla lives on the street and earns money by selling movie tickets. Speculative activity attracts the attention of police officers. So he gets from Kabul to a Soviet orphanage and, along with the rest of the newcomers, must adapt to a completely new way of life, learn Russian and defeat local hooligans.

Original title:
Parwareshghah

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Quodratollah Qadiri, Anwar Hashimi, Karan Jeet Singh…

Country:
Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Afghanistan

Rating:
IMDb – 6.7


Someone’s Baby: The Regina Louise Story (2019)

The foreign film tells about the black orphan Regina and how faith and love become her lifeline. Before coming of age, the girl managed to change more than 30 shelters and psychiatric hospitalsuntil she met a woman, Jeanne, who believed in her. However, due to racial prejudice, it is not so easy to officially become a mother and daughter for these two, and a lot of trials await them ahead.

Original title:
I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Ginnifer Goodwin, Angela Fairley, Sherry Som…

Country:
USA

Rating:
IMDb – 7.6


Woman at War (2018)

Many years ago, 50-year-old Halla made a request to adopt an orphan from Ukraine. And while she waits for approval, the woman is actively fighting energy companies that pollute the environment. A seemingly inconspicuous citizen who works in a choir and rides a bicycle, keeps a whole arsenal of homemade weapons and explosives in the basement, and in her spare time is engaged in undermining power lines. When the film’s heroine receives a letter of approval for adoption, Halla is faced with the question of whether to be just a mother or continue her dangerous war.

Original title:
Kona fer í stríð

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Halldoura Geirhardsdouttir, Johan Siguroarson, Juan Camillo Roman Estrada …

Country:
Iceland, France, Ukraine

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 7.4


Looking for Mom (2017)

A good family movie in the comedy genre about orphans collected a record box office for Kyrgyzstan and earned a high rating thanks to the excellent performance of a small actor in the lead role. The film tells about Azamat from the orphanage, who went to the USA in search of his mother. A smart and sociable boy has a phenomenal memory. But here’s the bad luck – he can’t remember his mother’s face, so he’ll have to try to find the unlucky parent. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, he will have many adventures and a meeting with his compatriot – 26-year-old dunce Daniyar.

Original title:
Finding Mother

Genre:
Drama, comedy, family

Actors:
Azamat Ulanov, Tauekel Muslim, Michael Maponga…

Country:
Kyrgyzstan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
12+


How to Skip School Profitably (2017)

A colorful and bright film will take the viewer right into the heart of the forest . Here the orphan Paul spends all his time, having come from Paris to the countryside to the governess who took him in for upbringing. Paul meets a rich count, forest ranger Borel and poacher Totosh. All day long the child plays in the forest, discovers the wonderful world of nature and reveals the old secret of his family.

Original title:
L’école buissonnière

Genre:
Drama, comedy

Actors:
Francois Cluzet, Jean Scandel, Eric Elmosnino…

Country:
France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 6.9

Age limit:
6+


Lion (2016)

At the age of five, a boy from the Indian slums, Saru, got lost and ended up in a shelter for homeless children. He was adopted by good people, he grew up and was educated in Australia, but childhood memories never leave an adult man. A film about adopted children with excellent audience reviews, it tells a poignant biographical story about how Saroo will find his way home, remembering only the first letter of the train station where he got lost many years ago.

Original title:
Lion

Genre:
Drama, biography

Actors:
Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara …

Country:
UK, Australia, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 8.0

Age restrictions:
16+


The day will come (2016)

In 1967, the whole world, with bated breath, is watching the conquest of space and waiting for a man to land on the moon. These events are also enthusiastically followed by the boy Elmar, who dreams of becoming an astronaut. However, the child’s life collapses when, due to his mother’s illness , he, along with his older brother, ends up in a closed religious boarding school, where cruel orders based on fear and humiliation reign. A film about orphans will try to answer the question – how long can you keep dreams and humanity in yourself if you have no rights and opportunity to speak out?

Original title:
Der kommer en dag

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Lars Mikkelsen, Sophie Grobeul, Harald Kaiser Hermann…

Country:
Denmark

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Nobody’s Baby (2014)

The list of the best films about children without parents will continue the story of modern Mowgli, which can move you to tears. In 1988, the rangers found the boy in the forest on the border of Montenegro and Bosnia. A seven-year-old child was absolutely not adapted, moved on four limbs and growled, adopting the habits of wolves , in whose pack he grew up. They named him Kharis and sent him to a boarding school, where he grew up, gradually learned how to live in society and found a friend. A few years later, a war begins in Bosnia, and our “wolf cub” becomes a full member of society, and he is sent back to his homeland.

Original title:
Nicije dete

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Denis Muric, Milos Timotievich, Pavle Chemerikich …

Country:
Serbia, Croatia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 7.6


Search (2014)

The drama film co -produced by France and Georgia takes place in 1999 against the backdrop of the second Chechen war . There are several people in the center of the plot – a young guy who was accidentally caught using drugs and ended up in the military registration and enlistment office, and then as a conscript soldier in Chechnya, a Chechen boy who lost his relatives, and a sympathetic woman. An employee of a humanitarian non-governmental organization decides to arrange the fate of a child, not knowing that his surviving relatives are looking for him.

Original title:
The Search

Genre:
Drama, military

Actors:
Berenice Bejo, Annette Bening, Maxim Emelyanov…

Country:
France, Georgia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.6, IMDb – 6.8


Match Girl (2013)

Mrs. Landsfried runs the orphanage, using physical punishment and intimidation of children. At Christmas , she sends the orphans out into the cold to sell matches to people. Having failed to sell a single box, little Inga decides not to return until she earns at least something in order to avoid punishment. The night is falling, and while the headmistress fills her stomach with delicacies, the girl freezes in the ruins of her parents’ house. A film about an orphanage, friendship and cruelty of this world has become a worthy adaptation of a well-known fairy tale, capable of making the characters cry and empathize.

Original title:
Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern

Genre:
Fantasy, family

Actors:
Leah Muller, Maximilian Ehrenreich, Nina Kunzendorf …

Country:
Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
6+


August Rush (2007)

Having met once, two talented musicians Luis and Layla immediately fall in love with each other. The result of their night of love is the boy August. However, the girl’s father is ready to do anything to prevent her daughter’s union with a rock musician , fearing that she will abandon her career as a cellist. The couple breaks up, and the father assures Lila that the son was stillborn. So a boy with a natural musical talent ends up in an orphanage, and when he grows up, he sets off in search of his parents. He escapes from the orphanage and becomes a street musician.

Original title:
August Rush

Genre:
Drama, music

Actors:
Freddie Highmore, Robin Williams, Keri Russell…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.0, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
12+


Yarik (2007)

Noisy, large and crowded station in Moscow. A 6-year-old boy Yarik comes here with his mother. They are waiting for their father, who disappeared several years ago, to meet them. Mom leaves for a minute, and Yarik falls asleep. Waking up, he realizes that his mother has not returned, and dad does not seem to be going to meet them. A Russian film about children left without parents will show all the trials that have befallen a baby – alone in a big city.

Genre:
Drama, family

Actors:
Sergey Badichkin, Anatoly Bely, Vladimir Dolinsky, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan …

Country:
Russia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:
16+


Italian (2005)

The hero of the Russian film, Vanechka, a pupil of the orphanage, gets a rare chance. A couple from Italy decides to adopt him. But the boy nicknamed “Italian” does not need generous gifts from future adoptive parents and a distant sunny country, he dreams of finding his real mother. One day, Vanya escapes from the shelter and goes in search. This is where his unforgettable adventures begin.

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Kolya Spiridonov, Maria Kuznetsova, Olga Shuvalova …

Country:
Russia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.5

Age restrictions:
16+


Oliver Twist (2005)

Crime melodrama, based on the classic work by Charles Dickens, will introduce the viewer to the orphan Oliver. Outside the 19th century. In the suburbs of London lives a small homeless child, who is dragged from one shelter to another. First, the child ends up in a workhouse, then in the undertaker’s apprenticeship, and then completely flees to London. Having got into a gang of criminals there, he tries to find his place in life and decide what is good and what is evil.

Original title:
Oliver Twist

Genre:
Drama, crime

Actors:
Barney Clark, Ben Kingsley, Jamie Foreman…

Country:
France, UK, Czech Republic

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
12+


Choristers (2004)

In the year of its release, the film became the highest-grossing film in France and remains one of the most successful films of all time. A music teacher who has lost his job , Clement, finds an advertisement for teachers in a boarding school for difficult teenagers. Once in the institution, the man realizes that harsh rules and strict measures of education reign here under the leadership of the adamant director Rashan. The children became hardened, having lost their last hope for love and support. Clement decides to heal them with music by organizing a school choir.

Original title:
Les Choristes

Genre:
Drama, music

Actors:
Gerard Junio, Francois Berlean, Kad Merad …

Country:
France, Switzerland, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 7.9

Age restrictions:
12+


Lemony Snicket: 33 Misfortunes (2004)

Violet, Klaus and Sunny lost their parents, their home, but they left hope in their hearts. The only relative, Uncle Olaf, was to become a bright ray in their lives. However, the man is not driven by good intentions, but by the desire to take possession of the rich inheritance of the tribes, becoming their guardian. Now the orphans will not only have to fight the enterprising and treacherous uncle, but also unravel old family secrets .

Original title:
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Genre:
Fantasy, comedy, adventure, family

Actors:
Jim Carrey, Emily Browning, Liam Aiken, Meryl Streep, Jude Law…

Country:
USA, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:
12+


Rabbit Cage (2002)

At the beginning of the 20th century, white Australians willingly exploited the local Aborigines . Half-breed children were removed from families and trained to serve the masters for their domestic needs. For these purposes, special schools were created, where the 14-year-old Molly got with her younger sister and cousin. Unable to endure life in captivity, the girls decide to run back home, but for this they need to cross one and a half thousand miles through the Australian desert , where the only “bread crumb” leading to the house is a fence from wild rabbits.

Original title:
Rabbit-Proof Fence

Genre:
Drama, adventure, biography

Actors:
Everlyn Sampi, Tiana Sunsbury, Laura Monahan …

Country:
Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.4

Age restrictions:
12+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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